- Posted September 28, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Cybercrime Law Causes Aggressive Opposition in the Philippines
The Philippine senate has recently passed the “ Cybercrime Prevention Act “ which has caused widespread condemnation from numerous human rights and internet freedom organizations including the New York based Human Rights Watch and the United Nations Human Rights Council.
One of the salient provision being aggressively opposed is the inclusion of “internet libel” as a criminal offence carrying a greater penalty than that of the traditional “libel” defined and penalized under the country's Penal Code. It also empowered the government to sanction and shut down websites and monitor online information under an ill-defined and unclear enforcement provision which is patently “excessive” according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Opposition senators called the measure “dangerous and oppressive” to the point of “demonizing technology”. A number of petitions have been filed in the Philippine Supreme Court seeking for the abolition of the measure on grounds of unconstitutionality. The Philippine arm of the hacking organization,“ Anonymous “, have also launched their protest by defacing government websites which has earned the ire of Philippine President Benigno Aquino III.
As an advocate of Freedom of Speech, one has to be vigilant of the laws being passed which might tend to unfairly restrict the lawful enjoyment thereof. However, one must likewise be mindful of the fact that freedom is never absolute. It is regulated by law in the interest of national security and for the protection of the rights of others. Hence, it becomes a matter of balancing between individual rights and public interests.
Consequently, lawmakers are required to weigh proportionality carefully and legislate clearly as to the proposed provisions. In a democratic society, the public is entitled to peaceful enjoyment of their rights without fear of prosecution and reprisal from the state yet they are also entitled to protection from vexation and damages arising from the abuse of these rights.
In this digital age, one cannot discount the importance of digital technology to both businesses and individuals. We live in a world heavily dependent on the internet in terms of economic and personal development. Any legislation which restricts the use of this indispensable machinery should therefore be studied extensively and carefully worded as to avoid clashes that do more harm than good specially to a developing economy such as the Philippines.